One of the best-known faces of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as “the Mormon Church”) is The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. This church choir began in the 1800s and is world-renowned. It is a “Mormon” aspect many people will be familiar with even if they have not heard of other things about the Church.
There are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all over the world including all parts of the United States. In the Midwest, Latter-day Saints have local talent all of their own.
Minnesota Mormon Chorale
Minnesota has it’s own 55 voice auditioned ensemble and orchestra including the violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, harp, piano and percussion. It is called the Minnesota Saints Chorale and Orchestra (formerly the Minnesota Mormon Chorale).
In addition to performing in concerts and at devotionals, the group also performs at firesides and church evening services that are centered on spiritual topics.
The chorale began almost ten years ago and according to an article on the official Church website:
The Minnesota Mormon Chorale, a 55-voice auditioned ensemble, is making a difference in the lives of many people, including hundreds of Latter-day Saints and their friends and neighbors in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
The Minnesota Mormon Chorale is officially recognized by the Church and is operated under the priesthood direction of Kenton Baker, president of the St. Paul Minnesota Stake.
The choir performs in at least four major concerts and at multiple devotionals every year. Erin Gray, its founder and artistic director, has led the chorale for nearly 10 years and watched it emerge from simple beginnings to a spiritually powerful and technically accomplished choir.
There have been many significant accomplishments already. The chorale has performed at least 68 concerts with more than 200 pieces of repertoire and has collaborated with several other choirs in the Twin Cities.
Choir participants are not required to be Church members, therefore, a person does not have to be a member of the Church in order to audition. This successful chorale has also collaborated with many different groups including:
South Metro Chorale
The South Metro Chorale is a community choir serving the south suburban communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Caritas Vocal Ensemble
The ensemble’s mission is to share music with the community to benefit people in need.
The Edina Chorale
The Edina Chorale, approximately 80 adult singers of all ages, performs a wide range of outstanding music, from Mozart and Bach to Sting and the Beatles.
Four Seasons Quartet
The Four Seasons Barbershop Quartet has a combined 70-plus years of experience in entertaining audiences throughout the land. They are all members of the Minneapolis Commodore Chorus, which has been a fixture in the Twin Cities for 65 years.
Minnesota Blue is an award-winning band that plays bluegrass and other music they love. Lead singer, Barbara Yotter, has a distinctive voice that goes straight to an audience’s heart whether it’s bluegrass or an acapella ballad.
Dr. Clifton Ware
Dr. Clifton Ware is an internationally known vocal pedagogue, master teacher, tenor soloist and author.
Sharing The Gospel
With the collaborations, travel, various performances and other opportunities, one of the positive outcomes of the chorale is the opportunity for meeting others and sharing more about the gospel.
In the article, the founder and artistic director of the chorale, Erin Gray, as well as others commented about the chorale.
Sister Gray said, “We have had a vision of how this choir can impact the testimonies of the members as well as increase the visibility of the Church in this area, and it is gratifying to watch that vision unfold. I believe we have only begun to do what the Lord would have us accomplish.”
Kenton Baker, president of the St. Paul Minnesota Stake, said, “This is the best thing we have going for missionary work. These concerts are a wonderful tool for us to minister to our friends and neighbors and provide a high form of worship.”
Jonathan J. Toronto, president of the Anoka Minnesota Stake, said, “The chorale represents a vital resource in our public affairs and missionary efforts in this area. It is a true jewel of the Church.”
A significant result of the chorale concerts is the testimony of Jesus Christ and His love for all that is borne to audience members through the Spirit. In March, the chorale performed the Lamb of God oratorio by Rob Gardner in connection with the newly formed Minnesota Mormon Orchestra that now performs regularly with the chorale under orchestra director Kate McWilliams.
Renowned soloists, including George Dyer, Gabriel Preisser, Laurel Armstrong, and Suzanne Hansen, joined the choir in delivering a performance to more than 1,500 people. Hundreds of people of other faiths attended and were able to feel the Spirit.
On May 10 the chorale performed its spring concert, titled “I Am a Child of God,” which testified through music and spoken word of God’s love for all of His children. Fifty youth forming a regional Mormon youth chorus, directed by Barb Thibaudeau, assistant director, performed with the chorale.
If you are interested in auditioning with the Minnesota Saints Chorale and Orchestra please go to Choir Auditions or Orchestra Auditions on the official website. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is NOT a requirement.